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The Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide for Freezing and Crashing in Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is infamous for random freezing and crashes during gameplay. This frustrating issue can be caused by:

  • Bloated save files accumulating excessive data
  • Problematic mods and load order conflicts
  • Outdated or underpowered hardware
  • Software and driver conflicts
  • Game file corruption
  • Overburdening the engine with graphics mods

With some tweaking, you can get Fallout 4 running stably and enjoy the rich post-apocalyptic world. In this detailed troubleshooting guide, let‘s dig into why Fallout 4 keeps freezing and how to fix it for good.

Pinpointing the Exact Cause

Freezing can happen due to various reasons – there is no one-size-fits-all fix. You need to troubleshoot systematically to isolate the culprit.

Start by monitoring your CPU, GPU and RAM usage. If any of those are pegged at 100% during freezes, your hardware may be underspec‘d for Fallout 4.

According to systemrequirementslab.com, you need at least a Core i5-2300 or FX-4350 CPU, GTX 550 Ti or Radeon 7870 GPU and 8GB RAM. An SSD is also recommended for faster loading and streaming.

If your specs are lower, consider upgrading. I went from constant freezing to buttery smooth gameplay after upgrading from 8GB to 16GB RAM on my system.

If hardware is not the issue, look at mods, software conflicts and game file integrity next.

Getting Your Hardware Fallout 4 Ready

Make sure your system meets or exceeds the minimum specs mentioned earlier. Some additional tips:

  • Update BIOS, chipset and hardware drivers to latest stable versions
  • Disable any overclocks if you have an unstable OC
  • Monitor temperatures during gameplay to check for thermal throttling
  • Use a hardware monitor like MSI Afterburner to check for bottlenecks
  • Consider upgrading to a modern 6 core/12 thread CPU and 10-series or later GPU
  • Add more RAM if you see it hitting 90%+ usage
  • An SSD improves loading times and streaming greatly

According to tests by GameDebate, an Intel i7-9700K RTX 2070 Super system can run Fallout 4 at 1440p over 100 FPS on ultra settings. With top tier modern hardware, you can really crank up the eye candy.

Optimizing Game Settings For Performance

If upgrading hardware is not viable currently, you can tweak in-game settings for better performance:

  • Lock FPS to 60 or 72 via mods. Uncapped FPS taxes the CPU/GPU.
  • Lower shadow quality and shadow distance to medium or low.
  • Disable ambient occlusion and depth of field.
  • Reduce godrays quality – set to low or off.
  • Lower draw distances for objects, NPCs and grass.
  • Use resolution scaling to render below your monitor‘s max resolution.
  • Cap FPS slightly below screen refresh rate e.g. at 70 for a 75Hz monitor.

These tweaks can boost FPS by over 30% in many cases based on tests by Hardware Unboxed on YouTube.

Mods – A Double Edged Sword

Mods can enchance and expand Fallout 4 in amazing ways. But modding recklessly can also destroy stability. Here are some tips for modding safely:

  • Don‘t go overboard – stay under 50-60 mods to avoid conflicts
  • Check requirements and compatibility info for each mod
  • Use a mod manager like Vortex or Mod Organizer 2 for sorting
  • LOOT is great for determining plugin load order
  • Install and test mods incrementally – don‘t add 20 mods together
  • Uninstall old savegame breaking mods like scrap mods
  • Start a new game after adding/removing mods
  • Clean mods with FO4Edit to remove wild edits

Pro tip: Use FallrimTools to clean save games after uninstalling mods that alter them.

Total mods Chance of issues
Less than 20 Very low
20 to 50 Moderate
50 to 100 High
100+ Extremely high

As this table shows, limiting mods is wise to avoid instability. Test extensively after installing new mods in an existing save.

Software and Configurations

Software conflicts can also cause freezing. Things to check:

  • Update Windows, chipset and other hardware drivers
  • Don‘t use beta drivers – stick to WHQL or creator-certified
  • Disable Windows Game Bar, GameDVR/GameMode
  • Add Fallout 4 as exception in antivirus and firewall
  • Run Fallout 4 and launcher as Administrator
  • Use Borderless Windowed Mode if fullscreen has issues
  • Disable Steam in-game overlay
  • Set Nvidia power mode to Prefer Maximum Performance

Clean installing GPU drivers with DDU can also eliminate any residual conflicting driver files.

Try toggling between Windows fullscreen optimization being on and off to see if it helps.

Examining the Game Installation

Corrupted game files can manifest as random crashes too. Some things to check:

  • Verify game file integrity via Steam
  • Defragment the drive if Fallout 4 HDD is highly fragmented
  • Update to latest game version and install official patches
  • Reinstall the game if file corruption persists
  • Increase virtual memory/page file size to 32GB
  • Run Steam and Fallout 4 as Administrator

Fallout 4 received a huge engine overhaul with Fallout 76. Hopefully Bethesda integrates some of those optimizations in a Fallout 4 patch.

Saving grace – Keeping Saves Pristine

Save bloat can contribue to stuttering and crashes after hours of gameplay. Some tips:

  • Start a new playthrough every 40-50 hours.
  • Manual hard saves often and use multiple rotating save slots.
  • Limit redundant quicksaving and autosaving.
  • Clean save games periodically with FallrimTools.
  • Install the Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch for better save stability.

Fallout 4 save games contain data on every object you interact with. Eventually the sheer size can destabilize the game. Proper save hygiene is key.

Wrapping Up

Fallout 4 is an incredible game but sensitive to system stability. By methodically optimizing your hardware, software, game mods and settings, you can eliminate freezing issues. Save frequently and limit save bloat. With some tweaking, you‘ll be enjoying buttery smooth post-apocalyptic gameplay for hours on end! Let me know if any other fixes worked for you.